The US presidential inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981 brought a wave of new social and economic initiatives, many of which would heavily shape US culture and attitudes. It was during this time of shifting cultural and socio-economic changes that the TV sitcom “Family Ties” emerged. Defined by its ability to tackle and discuss the changes of the era, the series focused on the nation’s move from the liberal views of the ’60s and ’70s, to that of the largely conservative views of the 1980s.
“Family Ties” made us laugh, cry, and perhaps most important of all — it made us think. “Family Ties” would prove to have an impact not only on its fans but also on its co-stars. Read on to learn some interesting, far-out facts about the show, as well as the personal lives of the cast!
Unusually Successful, Decade-Long On-Air Television Runtime
Unlike the majority of television sitcoms of the ‘80s—most of which typically never surpassed one or two seasons—“Family Ties” experienced an unusually long on-air runtime. In fact, the show was so successful, it lasted nearly a decade, and attracted an enormous audience. Initially, the concept of the show was a reflection of creator Golberg’s own life—a semi-autobiography of his own life. First premiered on TV in 1982, the sitcom carried on for 7 more years, lasting all the way until its final episode, aired in 1989.
The longstanding success of “Family Ties” was heavily rooted in the show’s ability to not only draw in television viewers but also, more importantly, maintain its initial viewers, while at the same time expanding upon the show’s widespread fanbase. "We stumbled into an area no one else was dealing with," said Goldberg. "America needed a strong family...our success was directly proportional to how poorly the American family was actually doing, at a time when the country was beset by economic and social hardship, child abuse, divorce, drugs, you name it. I think the Reagan Era helped the show a lot."
Baby Boomers vs. ’80s Kids: The Shift from Liberal to Conservative
During the show’s near-decade-long runtime, the nation would enter a time of great political, cultural and social change, as US citizens leaned further towards more conservative views of the country, and the world in general—a stark contrast to the liberal views largely dominating the United States in the ’60s and ’70s.
By featuring characters from varying generations, “Family Ties” ensured the show maintained a diversified view of the world. The dramatic shift of perspective experienced by the nation in the ‘80s was an idea largely present throughout the series—just one of the many themes explored throughout the show’s runtime.
The Differing Ages—and Views—of The Keaton Kids
The above theme is exhibited in the children of the Keaton family, whose varying ages reflect each individual’s differing views and opinions on life. Alex Keaton was a young Republican. Mallory Keaton was very materialistic. Jennifer Keaton was a tomboy, wanting nothing more in life than to be a normal kid. And the youngest of them all, Andrew Keaton was a boy very much influenced and shaped by his brother Alex’s attitude and actions.
Indeed, other than sharing a common last name and living under the same roof, not one Keaton kid was identical to the other.
Michael J. Fox: The Unintended Main Character of the Show
Though it may come as a shock to many of you die-hard fans out there, in reality, when the show first went on air, Fox's character was not actually meant to be the main character of the series. However, it was not long before he took the lead. Over the years, as the show carried on and developed, Fox became the star of the series.
In fact, it was his role in Family Ties that would later prove to be instrumental in the launch of his multi-decade career as a highly successful, widely recognized, a-list actor. Today, Fox is still a prominent figure in show business and is one of the most famous faces among the Hollywood acting scene.
The Legendary Career of Michael J. Fox
Following his breakout role on Family Ties, Fox went on to have a very fruitful career in acting. He not only landed lead roles on several TV shows but also broke into the very difficult realm of cinema. Today, Fox’s legendary career is defined by many big-screen roles, and he has become one of the most recognizable and iconic faces in Hollywood.
Sadly, unlike Fox, who eventually dominated the Hollywood scene as one of the most sought after actors in the business, not all of the Family Ties cast members were so lucky later on in life. Indeed, for many of the show’s stars—especially the younger ones—the increasing pressures of fame would ultimately lead to their downfall.
Recipient of One of Canada’s Most Prestigious Awards
While widely known and praised for his acting work, Fox is also a prominent figure in the non-profit world. Indeed, as a leading advocate in the fight to cure Parkinson’s Disease, today he is seen as not just an actor, but also a philanthropist. In 2000, Fox launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Since its founding, this highly successful, widely established non-profit organization has raised over $450 million for Parkinson’s research.
This selflessness and passion to help others are recognized not just by those in the general public, but also by his home nation of Canada. In 2011, the Canadian-born actor was awarded the Order of Canada Award—the second-highest award given by the country, and the nation’s “highest civil honor”—for his contributions to the arts and Parkinson’s disease research.
Famous Guest Stars On the Show, Before They Were Famous
While the familiar, beloved faces of the main characters and recurring roles on the set of Family Ties were irreplaceable, it is interesting to highlight the myriad of celebrity cameo appearances scattered throughout the episodes. Interestingly enough, though the series did boast a long, illustrious list of a-list celebrity actors and actresses, we should point out that these stars appeared on the show long before they were actually famous.
Many celebrities—including the likes of Tom Hanks (as Uncle Ned), Geena Davis (as Karen), Christina Applegate (as Kitten), Corey Feldman, and many more—first appeared on the set of Family Ties. Only after appearing in this classic American sitcom did these starlets go on to rise to a life of fame and fortune. Read on to discover just a few of the many stars that appeared on “Family Ties".
Netflix and Family Ties—When Television Worlds Collide
Netflix and an ‘80s sitcom series—a seemingly unlikely, yet ultimately successful, pairing. When Family Ties first premiered in the 1980s, Netflix was not even a thought for TV viewers. However, this paradigm of classic American sitcom television proved itself just as popular among Netflix users of today’s generation than it was when it first aired back in the ‘80s.
Despite being pulled from Netflix on August 16, 2015, "Family Ties" still managed to reach a whole new generation of young, millennial binge-watchers who were introduced to a classic genre of American television.
“Family Ties”: A Classic Pop Culture Norm Still Relevant Today
Despite the many years since its premiere, this show is still as popular and relevant today as it was back in the ‘80s. The sitcom’s longstanding legacy and ageless acclaim has maintained its fanbase over the years and is now largely seen as a classic among television viewers young and old.
Even decades after the show’s initial release, Family Ties continues to be part of today’s pop culture, still being referenced across a range of media platforms, and in modern-day music, TV shows, and movies.
Widespread Family Ties On-Air Inconsistencies
Though it is most common for the majority of TV shows to remain consistent with their daily and weekly TV air times, “Family Ties” did not adhere to one specific on-air slot. Instead, the makers of the shower chose to consistently change the show’s timing, oftentimes even changing what day of the week the show would be broadcast.
Despite these ‘annoying’ changes, the show’s fanbase still remained strong with millions of devoted fans. Reflecting on the show’s inconsistencies, we can’t help but wonder how audiences of today would react to the unpredictable airing of the show.
Meredith Baxter: Actress and Inspirational Breast Cancer Survivor
One of the most common types of cancer is breast cancer, which continues to wage war on millions of women (and yes, even men), every single day.
Meredith Baxter is one of these women. And thankfully, she emerged victoriously, beating her breast cancer, and becoming a survivor.
A Man of Many Talents: The Incredible Michael Gross
While his role on “Family Ties” was one of his most well-known acting roles, few people are aware that Gross is actually capable of performing far more than just comedy. With an acting career spanning more than 40 years, his multi-faceted performing abilities come as no surprise. And he’s certainly not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.
In addition to his recurring role on “Family Ties,” Gross also went on to earn a starring role in the Tremors sci-fi/adventure films. Additionally, he has also appeared on hit television shows, including Law & Order, The Young and the Restless, and How I Met Your Mother. Most recently, Gross has appeared on the television series, “Grace and Frank,” which first aired in 2015.
Brian Bonsall: From Child Actor to Musician
During his time on the show, the success of “Family Ties” quickly propelled a young Brian Bonsall into the overbearing limelight of child actor stardom. Not even ten-years-old while on the sitcom, though the young actor possessed the raw talent and potential for a long, illustrious carer ahead of him in the film industry, he eventually made the decision not to go down that road.
In 1994, Bonsall officially retired from acting and went on to pursue a career as a musician instead. However, a 2001 DUI arrest, and another 2007 charge of assault by his then-girlfriend, brought him further away from his dreams. After violating terms of his probation, the former child actor has been in and out of jail ever since.
Meredith Baxter Comes Out to the Public
Though in the past, many critics often ousted Baxter and her multiple failed marriages, claiming that, when it came to relationships, this “Family Ties” actress was inevitably bound to fail, as the public later learned in 2009, this was certainly not the case for Meredith Baxter.
Much to the shock of the public, in 2009 Baxter came out as a lesbian. According to reports, it was because the idea of being a homosexual was largely frowned upon and widely disapproved of back in the '80s, that Baxter states she was not allowed to be who she really was. Thankfully, with the progressive LGBTQ movement worldwide, the world has become a safer place to be whoever you want to be, and love whoever you want to love.
The Mid-‘80s: A Period of Nearly Unrivaled, Unmatched Television Ratings
Despite the difficulty faced during the first two seasons of “Family Ties,” during which time the show barely etched itself into the top 50 television shows—perhaps, in part due to the sitcom’s predominately inconsistent television air time scheduling—the producers of “Family Ties” found it almost impossible to obtain any good ratings from viewers, and struggled to keep up with the more successful shows on TV at the time.
However, the show’s luck would soon change for the better. With the arrival of seasons three, four and five, the sitcom was finally able to reach its potential. In the years that followed, “Family Ties” would ultimately snag a spot among the top 5 television ratings. At its prime, the show even topped the charts, peaking at number two on TV rankings.
The Many Awards of Michael J. Fox
Over the years of his longstanding, successful career in acting, Michael J. Fox has continued to win awards for his talents. Some of the many prestigious acting awards Fox has collected include several Golden Globes (1998, 1999, and 2000) and a Grammy.
But above all, nothing even begins to compare to the incredible actor’s three-year Emmy-winning streak from 1986 to 1988, all of which he earned for his role as Alex on “Family Ties.”
The “Family Ties” Appearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Most recognized for her role as Elaine on “Seinfeld”, or the POTUS on the HBO hit TV series, “Veep”—among many others—believe it or not, Louis-Dreyfus also appeared on “Family Ties” in 1988. On “Family Ties”, she played a lawyer by the name of Susan “Raindrop” White, who appeared on Season 6.
Prior to her starring role on Seinfeld, Dreyfus appeared on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL), a role which would lead Louis-Dreyfus to drop out of college at the age of 21 and move to New York City to pursue her dreams as an actress. She would remain a regular SNL cast member up until 1985. Louis-Dreyfus later expanded her acting career to film in 1986, with small roles in the fantasy-horror film “Troll,” and, more notably, in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters.
The Joseph Gordon-Levitt Experience
A very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt also appeared on the series, in not just one, but two episodes of “Family Ties". Playing the role of Dougie—a friend of Andrew’s (the youngest child of the Keaton family), Gordon-Levitt was seven-years-old at the time the episodes were shot. Though he may not have known it at the time, Gordon-Levitt would go on to have a truly iconic acting career.
Since his role on “Family Ties”, Gordon-Levitt went on to play roles in box office hits, including Inception and (500) Days of Summer. Additionally, many more would come to know and recognize Gordon-Levitt for his role on over 100 episodes of “3rd Rock from the Sun,” where he took on the role of extraterrestrial teenager Tommy Solomon.
River Phoenix Also Appeared on the Show
River Phoenix was another celebrity appearance on “Family Ties”. Featured in one 1985 episode of the show, a 15-year old Phoenix took on the role of Eugene Forbes, a 14-year old mathematical prodigy responsible for tutoring Alex.
Sadly, just 8 years later, Phoenix tragically passed away at the young age of 23.
Christina Applegate’s Iconic “Family Ties” Cameo
We can also add the beautiful and talented Christina Applegate to the list of star guest appearances! On "Family Ties" Applegate took on the role of Kitten, who was an addition to Jennifer’s band. Since then, Applegate has gone on to establish herself as a successful actress in Hollywood, starting with the career-changing role of Kelly Bundy on the FOX sitcom “Married…with Children".
In the world of film, Applegate’s credits include Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, The Sweetest Thing, Anchorman, Hall Pass, and yes, even Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Applegate has won a number of awards and nominations, including four Emmy nominations, and an Emmy award for ‘Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” in 2003, for her role as Amy Green in the hit NBC comedy series, “Friends.”
Even David Faustino Made an Appearance
Like Applegate, Faustino also began his career with an appearance on “Family Ties,” which, many years later, would land him a role alongside Applegate on the TV show, “Married…with Children.” During his time on “Family Ties,” Faustino played the role of little Keith Bailey—a role he secured in 1983.
Beyond “Family Ties” and “Married…with Children,” Faustino has also acted in a wide array of TV shows, including “Entourage”—in which he plays himself—, as well as the character Tater on one 2013 episode of “Modern Family”
Crispin Glover Was Also on "Family Ties"
Like “Family Ties” actor Michael J. Fox, Crispin Glover—who played the role of Doug, a friend of Alex’s, on the show—also appeared in the blockbuster movie, “Back to the Future,” acting alongside Fox in this hit film. Beyond his roles in “Back to the Future” and “Family Ties”, Glover also went on to act in a number of other movies, including Hot Tub Time Machine, and Charlie’s Angels.
Additionally, Glover also established himself as a recognized and talented director. In 2013, he got recognition for his work by New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design. More recently, Crispin is credited with the role of Mr. World on the television series, “American Gods” (2017-2019).
Courteney Cox Also Appeared
Before Courtney Cox earned the prominent role as Monica on “Friends,” she actually had a recurring role on “Family Ties” from 1987 to 1989. Cox played the role of Lauren Miller, Alex’s girlfriend. Obviously, this was just the beginning of a very successful acting career.
Even after “Family Ties” and “Friends”, Cox continued to land lead roles, such as her character Jules Kiki Cobb on “Cougar Town". Recently, 54-year-old Cox has been the subject of much scrutiny, after deciding to remove her fillers and embrace herself and her aging beauty. “You have to accept getting older, and that’s something that I had a hard time doing,” said Cox in one interview.
Matthew Broderick Almost Played Alex P. Keaton
While the role of Alex P. Keaton is notably played by talented actor Michael J. Fox, the role was almost given to famous actor Matthew Broderick. However, Broderick ultimately turned down the opportunity, as he did not have any intentions of relocating to Los Angeles, California to shoot the show.
Though Fox ultimately became the center of the show, when Goldberg, the show's creator, first saw Michael J. Fox’s audition tape, he didn't feel Fox was right for the role of Alex. However, after much convincing by casting director Judith Weiner, Goldberg finally agreed to give Fox a chance.
Michael J. Fox's Inspiration for Alex Was His Own Brother
Upon securing the role of Alex on “Family Ties,” Michael J. Fox immediately decided to put all his time and effort into making the character shine. For inspiration, Fox ultimately decided to draw on the views and opinions of his real-life brother, who, according to Fox, was a real comedian at their family dinner table.
In explaining the inspiration he got from his brother in an interview with the Archive of American TV, Fox said: "I was basically just playing my brother... I never understood the concept of timing, but I knew my brother was so funny that you'd wait for what he had to say. He'd put his glass of milk down, and from the minute he took the glass away from his mouth, you waited for what he had to say. Later on that all became a part of Alex."
“Family Ties” and “Back To The Future” Overlap
At one point during the filming of “Family Ties,” Fox was also shooting the feature film, “Back To The Future”. At the time, “Family Ties” would not give Fox any time off from playing the role of Alex.
But, as we now know, this minor set back did not put a damper on Fox’s fruitful acting career. In the end, Fox would ultimately decide to ambitiously take on both roles at the same time.
The Show's Influence on Music
In addition to its influence on television viewers, “Family Ties” also had a substantial impact on the world of music. Indeed, it was because of a scene on one episode of “Family Ties” that one song made it to number one on the music charts. Yes, Billy Vera and the Beaters can thank “Family Ties” for the success of their song, “At This Moment”—a song which was famously played during the scene in which Fox’s character Alex and his girlfriend break up.
Though the song had been released six years prior to its appearance on “Family Ties,” on October 3, 1986, the show reintroduced the song to TV viewers. As a result, the song was eventually re-released. The song even secured the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.
Brian Bonsall: Child Actor Gone Bad
Sadly, like many other child actors in the industry, the pressure of fame as a young boy ultimately lead Bonsall to rebel against society. Following the end of the show, Bonsall eventually ended up getting himself into a lot of trouble with the law and was even arrested at one point in time.
Today, Bonsall has focused his life on his future as a musician, thus renewing his popularity and recognition as an entertainer. According to reports, Bonsall owes much of this newly renewed success to his decision to mature from his earlier, wilder days. “I’ve learned a lot about myself, that’s for sure,” Bonsall said.
Alex: Loved by Democrats and Republicans
Throughout the largely conservative era the 1980s, though Michael J. Fox is widely known for his portrayal of Alex as a young, dedicated Republican, believe it or not, Fox’s character was also a much-loved character to a number of Democrats. But how could one clearly Republican character be so loved by both political parties?
The answer lies in the fact that, while Republicans believed Fox was successful in representing their conservative, republican views, in contrast, Democrats believed he did a great job of satirizing these very same right-wing views. By channeling both sides of the political spectrum, Alex was able to reach a wide array of fans, many with completely opposite opinions.
The Easy Life of Scott Valentine
For Scott Valentine, a.k.a Mallory’s humorous boyfriend on the show, life has always been easy. At one point in time, the actor was even playfully quoted as he complained about his privileged upbringing, which included an education at a prestigious school—only to ultimately secure the role of a “monosyllabic dude” on “Family Ties.” Valentine then went on to reveal that, despite his only line being a grunt during one episode, the successful actor still received a “bundle of cash for it".
Following his appearance on “Family Ties,” Valentine went on to do several guest appearances on a number of television shows and made-for-TV movies, including “Lady Boss (1992), two episodes of “Murder, She Wrote,” and even a 2004 cameo on "CSI: NY". Other credits include “Double Obsession” (1992), “To Sleep with a Vampire” (1993), and “Paranoia” (1998). Today, Valentine has largely stepped away from the limelight and holds the position of Executive Director at the investment firm Excelsior Capital Partner.
Valentine’s Multiple Spin-Off Attempts...And Failures
In addition to his role on “Family Ties,” it is also interesting to point out Valentine’s numerous attempts—and ultimate failures—at a leading role on three spin-off television shows. Despite the emptiness of the character known as Mallory’s boyfriend, Nick Moore, the public still loved this seemingly unimportant, lackluster character.
In fact, fans of the show loved Moore so much, that he was ultimately given a chance to star in his very own spin-off series—and another, and another. However, in the end, following the failure of all three attempted spin-offs, Moore ultimately proved not to be interesting enough to have his own show. However, Valentine was still able to experience much success as an actor over the years.
Love at First Show: The Story of Michael J. Fox and His Wife
Believe it or not, Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan have “Family Ties” to thank for their loving marriage. It was on the set of “Family Ties” that Fox would meet Pollan. Playing the role of Alex’s girlfriend, Ellen, on the show, according to Pollan, when she first met Fox, she actually thought him to be irritating and entirely full of himself. But obviously, she eventually got to know him and admitted she began to like what she saw.
Despite the alleged chemistry between Fox and Justine Bateman, who often got into playful water gun fights on the set of the show, in the end, it was Pollan that ultimately stole Fox’s heart. Married since 1988, Fox and Pollan are still happily married today and have four children together.
Fox as Alex: Initial Character Interpretations
Interestingly enough, Fox’s initial interpretations of his character, Alex Keaton, was that of someone who was ruled by a life of fear.
In one “Inside the Actors' Studio” interview, Fox said the following about the initial development of the iconic role: “He looked amazing, he felt good about what he presented to the world, but you could poke your finger through it any time you wanted to. And then the fun was watching him react to that and recover from it".
Alex Keaton’s True Opinion of Trump
With the rise of President Trump, the US Republican Party has had a clear and drastic change of political views from that of Alex’s 1980s Republicanism. In fact, “Family Ties” producer Gary David Goldberg went as far as going on record, claiming Alex would ‘in no way approve of,’ or ‘want to be affiliated with’ the Republicans of today.
Goldberg also said that he believed that if Alex was a real person, living in today's modern world, he would be a successful, pro bono lawyer for a children’s defense fund. He even said to the New York Times: “Alex would be unhappy with the plan to tax the wealthy at a higher rate,” Goldberg wrote. “But Obama’s slogan is very similar to Alex’s own personal mantra: ‘Of Course I Can.’”
The Cox-Fox Relationship Rumors
While shooting “Family Ties,” there were a number of rumors about whether the on-screen couple played by Michael J. Fox and Courtney Cox, actually had a romantic relationship in real life. The gossip went so far that some even claimed Fox broke up with Tracy (Fox’s actual partner), in order to be with Courtney. Thankfully, in the end, the truth prevailed and the rumors were eventually disproven.
In real life, Cox was infamously known for her lengthy relationship history, one which included a marriage to actor Michael Keaton from 1990 to 1995, actor David Arquette from 1999 to 2010, and now, more recently, her engagement to current fiancé, Snow Patrol band member Johnny McDaid.
Nearly Fired...Over A Lunchbox?
Fox was nearly fired from “Family Ties”—and it was all because of a lunchbox. Apparently, according to NBC president Brandon Tartikoff, Fox was almost fired from the show simply because he did not believe Fox had the right face for 'display on a lunchbox'. “I’m telling you, this is not the kind of face you’ll ever see on a lunchbox,” said Tartikoff.
Years later, after both Fox and the show rose to great prominence and fame, Fox claimed he made a lunchbox just for Tartikoff, which was hilariously decorated with his face. We can’t help but believe Tartikoff definitely deserved that one.
Ubu Roi: The Dog Behind the Show's Logo
Ever wonder who the dog in the show’s production logo was? Interestingly enough, the widely recognized dog—known to all true “Family Ties” fans—was actually the faithful canine of none other than the famed writer, producer, and “Family Ties” creator, Gary David Goldberg.
A black Labrador Retriever known by the name of ‘Ubu Roi’—after playwright Alfred Jarry’s 1896 stage play, “Ubi Roi,”—the particular shot of Goldberg’s dog was taken in Paris, in front of the iconic Louvre art museum. Apparently, during the very same trip in which this dog-portrait was taken, Goldberg and his wife were in the midst of an adventurous hitchhiking journey across Europe.
Alex Was Born in Africa
For many fans of the show, the true charm of “Family Ties” lies in the heavy tension between the hippie, democratic baby boomer parents Steven and Elyse, and their young Republican son, Alex.
This major family conflict is one that began soon after Alex's birth, who, believe it or not, was actually born in Africa while his parents were in the Peace Corps. But despite Alex’s liberal upbringing, he would eventually establish his own, more conservative views.
The Alternate Series Ending - A Fatal Plane Crash
Though the series ultimately ended with Alex packing up for his move to New York, in reality, if the cast would've had it their way, the series would have ended very differently. According to reports, the cast of “Family Ties” actually wanted the series to end with a fatal plane crash. Apparently, for whatever reason, at the time when the last episode was filmed, the cast didn't want even the slightest possibility of a future reunion show after the series' initial ending.
"Everybody wanted to get it right, and there were rewrites up until the last minute,” commented Gross on the last episode. "Maybe some perverse part of our writers never wanted the show to end.” According to Michael J. Fox, the last episode was taped in front of an audience of family and friends of the cast members. "I was fine until the curtain call, then I started weeping. I felt like an idiot until I looked around and realized I had company,” said Fox.
The “Family Ties” Cast Reunion
Despite the cast’s clear opposition to the outcome of the final episode of the show, decades later, they would actually take part in a cast member reunion. During the reunion, Michael J. Fox and “Family Ties” crew members agreed to meet up and reunite, taking part in an Entertainment Weekly sponsored get-together in 2015.
The “Family Ties” cast and creators wanted to give fans a chance to see what the Keatons looked like years after the show’s final episode. Apparently, behind the scenes, the “Family Ties” cast actually managed to stay in touch. "It's cliché to say that it was like a family and everybody always says, 'They're so great. We all loved each other.' But we really did," said Fox, then 54, about the cast back in 2015.
The “Family Ties” Scandal
Though the cast would remain close during and after the airing of the show, behind the scenes, unbeknownst to many at the time, there was actually a big conflict brewing between the “Family Ties” creator Gary David Goldberg and many other big names in TV.
Ultimately, this quarrel would end in an infamously enormous lawsuit—one which involved over 150 television and film writers over the age of 40, who took the industry’s alleged age discrimination to court. Goldberg became the focal point after the lawsuit, after being quoted saying that the writers of “Family Ties” did not include anyone over the age of 29, claiming this choice was ultimately made “by design.”
An Unlikely Reality Show Connection
Tina Yothers, who is most known for her role as Jennifer on “Family Ties,” appeared on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap in 2012. Beginning her acting career at just nine years old, Yothers eventually transitioned from acting to music. Indeed, following her role in “Family Ties,” Yothers, who rebelliously died her hair black following the end of the show, went on to join a band by the name of ‘Jaded.’
Her career in music would later extend to the theater. Following her pursuit of a career in performing, Yothers decided to return to the world of television, but this time, it was for reality TV. She appeared on "Celebrity Fit Club" (VH1, 2005-2010), and ABC’s "Celebrity Wife Swap” in 2012.
The Silent “J” In Michael J. Fox
Though Michael Fox may be known for his “J” middle initial, in reality, this letter doesn't actually stand for anything. While born Michael Andrew Fox, as he entered a career in acting, Fox soon realized there was already a Michael A. Fox in the Screen Actor’s Guild. Consequently, Fox decided to change his middle initial to “J” in order to stand out.
According to sources, Fox chose the "J" letter in honor of Michael J. Pollard, a legendary actor known for his role as C. W. Moss in the crime film, Bonnie and Clyde (1967), as well as a number of other leading roles in films like “Tango & Cash” (1989) and “Scrooged” (1988).
Alex Keaton’s “Spin City” Appearance
Following the end of “Family Ties,” Fox went on to act in a number of TV shows and films, and one of these included the role of Mike Flaherty on “Spin City.” Throughout his time on the show, Fox made quite a few friendly nods to his previous role as Alex. In fact, in one particular “Spin City” episode, there is mention of a conservative junior senator by the name of Alex P. Keaton.
However, despite his success as an actor on both television and film, Fox ultimately had to leave his role on "Spin City" and many others because of his worsening Parkinson’s symptoms—a disease which he was diagnosed with in 1991, at the age of 29.
The Surprising Intentions of Mallory’s Character Portrayal
While similar to her ‘monosyllabic’ boyfriend, Mallory’s character was often considered somewhat of an airhead, she was originally meant to be far less ditzy. As the story goes, Justine Bateman (the actress who played Mallory) made her character appear to believe the insults thrown at her by her brother Alex to be compliments, not jabs.
While originally these disses were not intended to be received as compliments, this accidental portrayal led to the increasing characterization of Mallory as a ditz.
Justine Bateman: From Successful Actress to Digital Guru
Though it is widely known that teens and young adults of the ‘80s and ‘90s tend not to have the best understanding of the internet, Bateman proved this stereotype is not always true. In fact, Bateman even went on to pursue a very successful career in digital technology.
Launching her digital production company in 2007, Bateman has since gone on to produce and act in a number of successful web series. She is also a partner at a content production company, as well as the head of her very own digital media production and consulting firm.
Bateman’s Career After “Family Ties”
Following her years as Mallory on “Family Ties,” Bateman has gone on to become a digital guru, the founder of her own clothing design company, and she's earned a scuba diving certification and a pilot license!
Bateman's acting career was no less impressive, as she's been nominated for an Emmy twice for her role in the famous TV show. Bateman has appeared on a number of other series, perhaps most notably on “Desperate Housewives.”
The Closely Knit, Authentic Family of the Cast Members
According to Justine Bateman, the cast of “Family Ties” was, and still is, an extremely close, tight-knit family. Of all the cast members, Bateman claims that offset, she was most close to Fox. Allegedly, the two would often go outside to smoke cigarettes on breaks.
On one occasion, Fox supposedly went as far as to convince his assistant to go out and buy the “Family Ties” actors water guns, so that they could all battle in what could be considered perhaps one the most epic water gun fights ever recorded!
Michael J. Fox and His Battle With Parkinson’s
Beyond his work in the world of acting, Michael J. Fox is, perhaps, even more recognized for his efforts to shed light on Parkinson’s Disease. Originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, at the young age of 29, Fox would not reveal this news to the public until nearly a decade after his initial diagnosis.
However, Fox has not let this disease consume his life. Since sharing his diagnosis with the world, Fox has done much to spread awareness about the disease in the hopes that the world may find a cure. Already, the actor turned philanthropist has raised millions of dollars for the cause.
Baby On Board!
Unknown to many, the actress Meredith Baxter—better known to “Family Ties” fans as Elyse Keaton—was actually pregnant during much of the show’s production! First discovering she was pregnant while “Family Ties” was in the process of being filmed, there were a number of things done to hide the fact that this pregnant actor did not play a pregnant character.
These include placing her in different clothes, lighting, camera angles, and even strategically placing props in a way that would hide her growing baby bump. However, despite the myriad of things done to hide her pregnancy, she was still written out of several episodes in season three.
Justine Bateman: Behind the Scenes, Up Close and Personal
Like many others in showbiz, Justine Bateman has most definitely proved herself as much more than her ditzy “Family Ties” character. Unlike Mallory, in reality, Bateman is very intelligent and ambitious, excelling in many fields beyond acting. Despite her contract with “Family Ties,” which prevented her from attending college while the show was on air, Bateman found a way to excel as a non-traditional college student.
With the rise of widely popular digital video platforms like YouTube in the mid-2000s, Bateman quickly realized the importance of ‘long-form’ online media production. As a result, in 2012, Bateman enrolled herself as a student at UCLA, in order to study computer science and digital media management. In 2016, she would finally complete her degree at the age of 50.
Real-Life, Famous Family Ties
Like her character on “Family Ties,” in real life, Justine Bateman also has a brother: Jason Bateman. And you’ve probably heard of him too. Similar to Justine, Jason also rose to fame with the help of increasingly popular television sitcoms of the 1980s, such as "The Hogan Family” and “Silver Spoons.”
In addition to his earlier fans, Jason has also garnered international acclaim for his starring role as Michael Bluth on the hit series, “Arrested Development”. He has also taken on big roles in a number of Hollywood films, including Game Night (2018), Horrible Bosses (2011), Zootopia (voice role, 2016), The Change-Up (2001) and The Switch (2010).
A “Family Ties” Musical?
When it was announced in 2016 that the producer of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked” was in the process of creating a stage version of “Family Ties,” Justine Bateman made it clear she did not support the stage adaptation of the show.
Indeed, ever since the “Family Ties” play was announced, Bateman has not been shy to vocalize her disapproval, even taking to Twitter at one point to publicly express her obvious disapproval, writing “Ew, ew, ew, ew” in response to the producer’s announcement. First debuting in Ohio on June 1, 2017, the true reason why Bateman is not a fan remains a mystery to us.
Beyond Hollywood: Launching Her Very Own Clothing Line
Beyond the entertainment and academic world, Justine has proven herself to be a woman of many talents. More recently, she has shown the world her skills as a highly successful business mogul. Channeling her passion for knitting, she took this everyday hobby above and beyond by proceeding to found her very own clothing company.
Named “Justine Bateman Designs,” this fashion line of exclusively hand-knitted items was founded by Bateman in 2000. To market her items, Bateman is often seen out on the town, sporting one of many cute and quirky ensembles from her design line. To pursue this newfound passion Bateman ultimately decided that she needed to take a break from acting.
More Than Just Mallory: Beyond “Family Ties”
Before starting her own businesses, Justine Bateman certainly stayed busy, making quite a name for herself in the world of television. Over the years, she appeared in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “Out of Order,” “Men in Trees,” “Still Standing,” “Californication,” and even Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place”.
Bateman also took on a role on the hit comedy-drama television show, “Desperate Housewives.” In addition to acting, Bateman has also sat in the director’s chair, producing and directing several pieces, including the 2008 TV movie documentary, “Speechless,” as well as the television series, “Easy to Assemble” (2011).